• 31 March, 2024
  • 5 mins

Will Ukraine take victory again? – Europe’s Strongest Man 2024 Preview

Europe’s Strongest Man returns to Leeds First Direct Arena on April 13th in what promises to be yet
another electrifying strength extravaganza! Twelve men will be representing eleven different nations,
with each athlete aiming to be crowned the continent’s strongest man and earn a precious
qualification to World’s Strongest Man!

Defending champion Pavlo Kordiyaka, who swept to victory last year, will be there alongside the
man he dethroned, Ukrainian teammate Oleksii Novikov. In fact, the past three winners will all be in
attendance, with 2021 victor, Luke Stoltman, leading the British charge that also includes The Welsh
Bull, Gavin Bilton, and Shane Flowers.

Kordiyaka, not renowned for his strength off the floor, will have the Deadlift Ladder on his mind; this pivotal event could well provide an opportunity for other competitors to muscle-in on some big points. Konstantine Janashia is a former Deadlift World Champion, and two-time podium finisher at Europe’s. He won this event in 2022, but when predicting a winner this time around, it’s difficult to look past Estonia’s Rauno Heinla, who at 41 possesses the biggest deadlift in this field at 476kg/1,049lb – a Master’s World Record!

Two athletes who are also no slouches in this departments are big Gavin Bilton and Shane Flowers,
having both achieved 430kg at last season’s World Championships. For Gavin, that number
represented a new Welsh record and the 1,000lb barrier (453.5kg) looks to be within his grasp. The
former professional rugby player is an athlete who is very much in the ascendancy right now, with
two podium finishes at Giants Live last year. He came within a whisker of reaching the World
Strongest Man final and his confidence seems to be growing with each contest.

The man who denied him his place in the WSM final, after a highly memorable Stone-off, is former
champion Luke Stoltman. The Invergordon man was just behind Bilton at Britain’s in January and is
coming into this contest having recently become a father. Luke and his wife, Kushi Stoltman, became
proud parents after welcoming their son Koa into the world on February 1 st . The Highland Oak has enjoyed much success at Europe’s and was second at his last appearance in 2022, having won the
previous year.

Shane Flowers is another Brit who seems to produce his best at Europe’s. He was 6 th last year and 5 th
in 2022. A World’s Strongest Man competitor from 2022, he achieved his first Giants Live podium at
the Strongman Open in Cardiff last season, producing a superb event-winning performance in the
Castle Stones. It’s usually a strong event for the 6-foot 4-inch Weymouth Man, but his
uncharacteristic 10 th place at the 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man almost certainly cost him a podium

Another Giants Live podium finisher who will be looking to improve on his 3 rd place finish at last
year’s Europe’s is Aivars Šmaukstelis. The likeable Latvian was 2 nd at the 2022 World Tour Finals and
recently beat a big field at the SCL Iceman event in Finland. A former World’s Strongest Man finalist,
Aivars is often overlooked, but possessing few weaknesses, is a tremendously consistent performer
who will likely be in the mix at the business end of this contest.

Pa O’Dwyer will once again be representing Ireland in what will be his 5 th appearance at Europe’s. His
best result came back in 2021, where he was 5 th , thanks largely to a strong showing in the Car Walk
–the second event this year. The 2022 Britain’s Strongest Man runner-up has taken the Irish title on
five occasions and was 7 th at his most recent competitive outing at Britain’s Strongest Man.

Rounding out the thirteen-man line-up will be some newer faces, including Sweden’s Strongest Man,
Fredrik Johansson, and Italy’s Nicolas Cambi. Cambi has recently moved up in weight class and was
the former World’s Strongest Man under 105kg. He’s a multiple overhead world record holder and
captured Italy’s Strongest Man title last year.

Ondřej Fojtů made his Giants Live debut at last season’s World Tour Finals after placing 3 rd at the
Official Strongman European Championships. The runner-up at Czech Republic’s Strongest Man took
4 th place at the Official Strongman Games in West Virginia and is the U23 World Record holder in the
Log Lift. With an incredible 206.1kg to his name, he will be one to watch, especially in the Viking

This year’s competition kicks off with a brutal test of grip and carrying strength. The SBD Nicol
Stones Carry is now well-established at Giants shows, and being somewhat lighter than the Dinnie
Stones, they are carried a much greater distance. The competitors must walk the implements down
the 20m course, making a turn if they are able. Once raised, the stones can be put down once, but
must be picked up again within 10 seconds. Luke Stoltman is a previous record-holder, although his distance has been bettered multiple times at Giants Live contests; most recently by Australia’s Eddie Williams, who shattered the record with an incredible 31.66m with the 138kg (304lb) and 114kg (251lb) stones. Pavlo Kordiyaka could do no better than 8th when these stones were last used at the Strongman Classic, whilst Aivars Šmaukstelis’s 20m at the 2022 World Tour Finals could earn good points if he can replicate it.

Event 2 will see the return of one of Giants Live’s most iconic events: the BoohooMAN Car Walk. The
1,000lb VW Beetles will be rocking and rolling as the strongmen progress down the 20m course. Can anyone get anywhere near the 10.00s world record Mateusz Kieliszkowski established at the 2019 World
Tour Finals?

With little time to recover from what is an enormously taxing discipline, the athletes will next
attempt the MiraFit Deadlift Ladder. Making its second appearance at Europe’s Strongest Man, this
event will favour the statically strong, though the speed at which these athletes can grip and pull the
barbells is also a major factor. At the 2023 Britain’s Strongest Man, Adam Bishop proved this with a
blistering run of 28.09 seconds, in which he was noticeably quicker at applying his lifting straps. The
barbell weights will be 300kg, 320kg, 340kg, 360kg, 380kg – loads that would normally present little
resistance to these strongmen, but after the Nicol Stones and the Car Walk the athletes will be
substantially fatigued and these weights will feel much heavier than usual!

The Iveco Viking Press will be this year’s penultimate event offering a switch of focus to upper body
power, though a coordinated and explosive leg drive can make all the difference as the shoulder and
triceps begin to flag. There are some phenomenal pressers in this line-up, so this event should be
highly exciting to watch and predicting a winner won’t be easy. If anyone can approach Trey
Mitchell’s unbelievable 18 reps from the 2023 Strongman Classic, they will be earning high points

The Castle Water Stones will once again decide which of the twelve men will leave with the
European title and after four gruelling events these stones will require every last ounce of power
these athletes possess. For those challenging for the podium, this event will be crucial and is one
that has provided no shortage of drama over the years.